Hundreds of Laois dads qualify for paternity payments

Laois near bottom of national benefit table

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

baby paternity leave dad

Paternity leave paid to help families.

Laois is near the bottom of a table of counties for dads awarded paternity benefit last year.

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection figures show that 349 fathers in Laois were availed of the two-week payment in 2018.

Laois was the fifth lowest county when it came to the men who were sanctioned for the €240 per week payment.

The awarding of the scheme appears to be in line with the size of the county's population as Dublin topped the list with 6,906 recipients. Leitrim, which is Ireland's least populated county, had 174 recipients.

August was the busiest month with 43 Laois parents approved. In September just 18 men were given the green light.

Since its introduction in September 2016, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Paternity Benefit is proving to be a popular scheme for new dads.  Overall, some 55,652 people have availed of the two week payment since September 2016, including 4,325 self-employed.  Latest statistics from the Department show that 24,080 people availed of the payment in 2018.    

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty believes that the two-week Paternity Benefit payment provides a great opportunity for new parents.  

“I am delighted that the relatively recent Paternity Leave is proving so popular. This is not just good for dads but improves the quality of life for all the family. I would encourage working parents, both employees and self-employed who are expecting or adopting a new baby to avail of their PRSI and to take their paternity leave.  This is just one of the supports that this Government has introduced for parents of young children,” she said. 

Paternity Benefit is a social welfare payment for employed and self-employed people who take paternity leave from work and are covered by their Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). The scheme is available to employees paying PRSI Class A, E or H contributions and to self-employed people paying PRSI Class S contributions. 

It is paid for two weeks to cover paternity leave and is available for any child born or adopted. Paternity leave can be taken at any time within the first six months following the birth or adoption placement. The current rate of PaternityBenefit is €240 per week. It will increase to €245 per week from the week beginning 25 March 2019, as provided for in Budget 2019.  

Minister Doherty said a new Parental Benefit scheme announced in Budget 2019 will be available to both parents providing for additional paid parental leave in the first year of their child’s life. 

Both parents will have access to an additional two weeks each of Parental Benefit, which will also be paid at the rate of €245 per week.”

The Minister said the first year of a child's life is vital for families.

“The first 12 months of life are incredibly formative for a child and the benefit of allowing parents greater time with a new baby will be beneficial to individual children, families and society as a whole. I am particularly happy that, with both paternal leave and this new parental leave scheme, we are creating more opportunities for fathers to have the time to spend with their new arrivals as this greatly benefits both child and parent.”